After a second steam eruption in two days, government scientists raised the volcano alert at Mount St. Helens in Washington State to Level 3 Saturday. "[W]e feel an eruption is imminent, or is in progress," said geologist Tom Pierson. No eruption was yet reported as the Monitor went to press. Interior Secretary Gale Norton, who flew over the mountain Saturday, said the greatest concern is that the spread of ash from an explosion could affect air travel. No communities are near Mount St. Helens and scientists expect the impending eruption to be much smaller than the devastating 1980 explosion.

As Vice President Cheney and US Sen. John Edwards (D) of North Carolina prepare for Tuesday's vice presidential debate in Cleveland, President Bush and opponent John Kerry tried to capitalize on exchanges during their first face-to-face encounter last week. Bush took Kerry to task for a remark about preemptive military action needing to meet a "global test." The Kerry camp responded with a TV ad accusing Bush of resorting to "lying" after he "lost the debate." According to several major opinion polls, Kerry did well in the debate, with three times as many viewers giving him the nod in an LA Times poll as Bush. Voter preference, however, remained about equally divided between them.

A labor dispute affecting San Francisco's tourist industry expanded as 10 hotels locked out unionized employees in retaliation for a targeted strike at four hotels. Meanwhile, in Atlantic City, N.J., employees pitched in to maintain reduced service at seven casinos, where about 10,000 bellhops, housekeepers, waitresses, and other union members went on strike.

While not defending journalistic breaches by CBS or Dan Rather, his fellow network news anchors offered their support Saturday for him during a forum organized by The New Yorker magazine in New York. NBC's Tom Brokaw blasted what he called an attempt to "demonize" CBS and Rather on the Internet for its embarrassing mishandling of a "60 Minutes II" story last month on Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard 33 years ago.

The Army denied that soldiers at Fort Carson, near Colorado Springs, Colo., are being pressured to reenlist or face being deployed to Iraq, The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

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